Details about proposed emergency center kept from City Council

Los Altos City Manager Chris Jordan

Daily Post Staff Writer

Los Altos City Manager Chris Jordan scheduled a public hearing for the City Council to look at designs for a new Emergency Operations Center, but the council wasn’t told how much it will cost or what activities will take place in it.

Several council members asked how much the new building, which is supposed to go behind the police station, will cost.

Community Development Director Jon Biggs said funding wasn’t agendized for the discussion.

City Attorney Jolie Houston told council they were supposed to say whether they like the building design. She said they can talk about funding when the contract for the building comes to them.

So far the city is in a $360,000 architectural contract, according to Engineering Services Director Jim Sandoval. Sandoval said this cost will likely be increased since the project has stopped and started.
Councilwomen Jeannie Bruins and Anita Enander said they were unhappy the funding discussion would be separated from the design discussion.

Enander said she was more than disappointed. She said she wants specific information about how the center will operate in case of an emergency like an earthquake. She also said she wants information on how much it will cost.

“To artificially divorce the money from the design just seems crazy to me,” she said.

Bruins said the priority is not just to get a building, but to get a building that serves the community’s needs. She said the council needs to understand the building’s programming first. She also said dollars are very important. She said she wants reasonable price estimates for every step of the process so the city can move easily from design to construction.

Members of the council including Bruins were also upset the design didn’t include space for the Los Altos Amateur Radio Emergency Service operators who are trained to help in emergencies.

Police Chief Andy Galea said the patrol division will work out of the EOC on a day-to-day basis when it isn’t being used for emergencies.

Mayor Jan Pepper said it is “backwards” to have the center be used primarily for patrol reasons with emergencies as an afterthought.

Councilwoman Lynette Lee Eng said she wants the whole picture for the project. She said it should be agendized in a way that the council can ask the questions that need to be asked.

Council did not approve the design plans. Instead, they told Jordan to come back with more information about prices and programming for the center.


  1. And people wonder why nothing gets done in this town. And why council meetings run so late. It’s because we have an incompetent city manager who for years has been presenting incomplete unprofessional staff reports. He should have been fired long ago.

  2. The report is very troubling. It also appears to raise more questions and it’d be good if the journalist clarify the following.

    ” a $360,000 architectural contract…”
    Has any taxpayer money been paid toward that contract? Who approved those payments? How did we reach the stage of a contract when it appears there were no prior discussions and/or agreement concerning the building, its purpose, etc.?

    “Police Chief Andy Galea said the patrol division will work out of the EOC on a day-to-day basis when it isn’t being used for emergencies.”

    Was there any prior discussion and/or agreement that the building could be used as PD Chief Galea states? From what it seems there was no prior discussion and/or agreement. This makes PD Chief Galea’s explanation a post-hoc rationalization to “justify” his manager Chris Jordan’s actions. It appears Councilmember Pepper was trying to make that point.

    All this is very troubling owing to the conflict of interests involved and all the more egregious as all five on Council appear to not have known about this.

    Could the Daily Post investigate this more? It is not the first or only time senior City managers did something without prior discussion/approval of Council and taxpayers. Cf. alternate Fridays off at City Hall, flashing lights at Portola/Los Altos Ave (Jordan threw two minority women City Hall employees under the bus to protect himself)

Comments are closed.